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Ken Burns: Thomas Jefferson - Part 1
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Ken Burns: Thomas Jefferson


Thomas Jefferson is a two-part portrait of one of the most fascinating and complicated figures ever to walk across America's public stage - our enigmatic and brilliant third president. Thomas Jefferson embodies within his own life the most profound contradictions of American history: as the author of our most sacred document, the Declaration of Independence, he gave voice to our fervent desire for freedom, but he also owned more than 150 human beings and never saw fit to free them.

Jefferson also made himself into a true renaissance man - a scholar, a philosopher, a diplomat, an aesthete, and an architect. As a young man, he was transformed by the fire of the Enlightenment into America's most articulate voice for human liberty. Torn between his desire for a serene family life at Monticello and his passion for politics, Jefferson endured ceaseless, heartrending personal loss. As President, he helped create the first American political party, and with the Louisiana Purchase, more than doubled the size of the new nation. Jefferson's last years were spent founding the University of Virginia and reestablishing his friendship, after decades of estrangement, from his onetime rival John Adams. His influence on and vision for our country reverberates to this day.

Running Time
177 mins
Nb videos
2 videos included

Comments (1)

Anonymous picture

Thomas Jefferson's idea of small government is laughable. Jefferson's personal finance was out of control. Clearly, he spent too much money buying Black slaves and properties, and he used loans when he didn't have enough cash to spend.